Jamaica High School

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Jamaica High School
Jamaica HS south long jeh.jpg
Present building completed in 1927
167-01 Gothic Drive
Jamaica, Queens, New York City, New York
Coordinates 40°42′52″N 73°47′54″W / 40.7145°N 73.7982°W / 40.7145; -73.7982Coordinates: 40°42′52″N 73°47′54″W / 40.7145°N 73.7982°W / 40.7145; -73.7982
Type Public
Established 1897
Closed 2014
Grades 9–12
Color(s) Red & Blue
Mascot Beavers

Jamaica High School was a four-year public high school in Jamaica, Queens, New York. The school was administered by the New York City Department of Education, which closed the school in 2014. The school's landmark campus, located at the corner of 167th Street and Gothic Drive, remains open and is now officially known as the Jamaica Educational Campus. It houses four smaller separately-administered public high schools that share facilities and sports teams.


Former building on Hillside Ave., completed 1897

Jamaica High School first conducted classes in January 1897 in a building at 162-02 Hillside Avenue that was designed by William Tubby, a well-known Brooklyn architect, in the Dutch Revival style. At that time, the school was administered by the Board of Education of the independent Town of Jamaica. The school's enrollment grew rapidly along with the population of Jamaica, which became part of New York City in 1898, at which time the school came under the jurisdiction of the New York City Board of Education. Over time, three annexes were added to the school building.

In the early 1920s it was clear that a new, larger building would be necessary. Construction of what would become the school's present building began in 1925, and the school moved there in 1927. The Board of Education retained control of the older building and put it to various uses over the years. It housed the Jamaica Learning Center, an alternative public high school, at the time of its designation as a New York City landmark in 2013.[1]

The present building with its generous lawn

The present school building, designed by William H. Gompert in the Georgian Revival style, occupies a hilltop location with commanding views on Gothic Drive. At the time of construction, the school building was the largest in the United States; it earned designation as a New York City landmark in 2009.[2] In its heyday in 1950, Jamaica High School's enrollment of 4,600 students was the largest in all of Queens.

In 2009, the New York City Department of Education made plans to close the school, citing a graduation rate that "has stagnated below 50% for years." This decision was challenged in court,[3] but by 2011 the Board of Education began to phase out Jamaica High School, and the school closed permanently in 2014. The building, now officially the Jamaica Educational Campus, remains in use and houses smaller public high schools that share facilities and sports teams.[4]

Present Schools[edit]

As of 2010, four schools, each with a separate faculty and admissions procedures, share the Jamaica Educational Campus. They are:

School Name Enrollment Theme
Jamaica Gateway to the Sciences 396 Math & science[5]
Queens Collegiate: A College Board School 647 College preparatory[6]
Hillside Arts and Letters Academy 420 Art & music[7]
High School for Community Leadership 357 Community involvement[8]


  • The first Queen's High School to win a Girl's New York City Track Championship. From 1986-2009, under coach Alan Coles, the Girls' Track team won 6 New York City Track Championships, and was the runner-up in two others. The team won over 35 Queens Championships in Cross-Country, Indoor, and Outdoor Track during those years. In 2007 the track team won the New Balance Award for academic excellence, community service, and athletic accomplishments.
  • Principals for a Day included actors Ed Lover and Steve Harvey. Gold medal Olympic winner and graduate of Jamaica High School, Bob Beamon[9]
  • Jamaica High School held an annual boat race in their pool, where students demonstrated their knowledge of laws of physics and art skills

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ Kurshan, Virginia. "Designation Report: Jamaica High School (Now Jamaica Learning Center)" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  2. ^ Kurshan, Virginia (March 24, 2009). "Jamaica High School" (PDF). Landmarks Preservation Commission. City of New York. 
  3. ^ "Jamaica High School to close doors, ending its rich history in Queens". Daily News. New York. 
  4. ^ "Jamaica High School". Inside Schools. 
  5. ^ "Jamaica Gateway to the Sciences". Inside Schools. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  6. ^ "Queens Collegiate". Inside Schools. 
  7. ^ "Hillside Arts and Letters Academy". Inside Schools. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  8. ^ "High School for Community Leadership". Inside Schools. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  9. ^ http://schools.nyc.gov/ChoicesEnrollment/High/Directory/school/?sid=1474
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j JAMAICA HIGH SCHOOL NOTEWORTHY ALUMNI. Accessed December 29, 2014.
  11. ^ Williams, Lena. "TRACK AND FIELD; Soothing an Old Ache", The New York Times, January 1, 2000. Accessed November 7, 2007. "As a student at Jamaica High School, Beamon came under the tutelage of Larry Ellis, the renowned track coach, and was named to the all-American track and field team as well as the all-city squad."
  12. ^ Compo, Susan A. (1 August 2009). Warren Oates: A Wild Life. University Press of Kentucky. p. 209. ISBN 0-8131-3918-X. 
  13. ^ a b c Vescey, George. "Sports of The Times; St. John's Must Hire Noo Yawker", The New York Times, April 17, 1992. Accessed November 2, 2007. "Well, pal, I recently went back to my alma mater, Jamaica High School, this beautiful building on the hill, which produced the Cleftones and Letty Cottin Pogrebin at the very same time, a few decades back."
  14. ^ "Noteworthy graduates: Jelani Cobb, professor and journalist". United Federation of Teachers. 
  15. ^ http://cisac.fsi.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/whitfield_diffie_cv_2015.pdf
  16. ^ Kilgannon, Corey. "Got Milk? Hula Hoop? It's a Record!; He's Guinness's King Of Strange Feats, All for Inner Peace", The New York Times, June 12, 2003. Accessed November 2, 2007.
  17. ^ Sheila Jackson Lee, Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Accessed December 28, 2014.
  18. ^ Fox, Margalit. "Gerald S. Lesser, Shaper of 'Sesame Street,' Dies at 84", The New York Times, October 4, 2010. Accessed October 4, 2010.
  19. ^ "Paid obituary for Irving Malin in New York Times". 
  20. ^ "John N. Mitchell Dies at 75; Major Figure in Watergate". New York Times. Retrieved 30 December 2014. 
  21. ^ "Walter F. O'Malley, Leader of Dodgers' Move to Los Angeles, Dies at 75; Unqualified Success", The New York Times, August 10, 1979. "The son of a commissioner of markets, he attended Jamaica High School in Queens and Culver Military Academy on Indiana, where he played on the baseball team until a broken nose finished his playing career."
  22. ^ "Dolores Wilson". Opera News. 4 October 2010. Retrieved 6 October 2010. 

External links[edit]